Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Add Privacy to Your Small Space with White Noise

Let’s say, theoretically of course, that you live in a small two-bedroom apartment with your wife and two children. One child is a not particularly deep-sleeping newborn, the other is a toddler with a voice that sets off car alarms when he finds out his fire truck pajamas are dirty. Light-sleeping baby + yelling toddler = parents wishing they had a floor or two more or very long hallway between bedrooms. If it weren’t for our white noise maker, we’d totally lose our collective s@#t.

While white noise is not as effective as distance, solid walls or special soundproofing in terms of eliminating sounds, it is very effective given how easy it is to employ. Rather than eliminating sounds, it adds a layer of flat, neutral sound that dulls sharp, disturbing sounds.

In my home, we use the aptly named “White Noise” app by TM Soft. We have it hooked up to an old iPhone and typically use the white or brown noise settings, though there is a huge range of sounds available including hairdryer and grandfather clock (we sprung for the $1.99 premium version with a huge catalogue of sounds).

marpacIf you don’t have an old iOS device or want something non-digital, the Marpac DOHM-DS is the go-to device for psychologist waiting rooms around the globe. It’s a small fan wrapped in a case with small vents that, depending how open or closed they are, allow you to modulate the sound. I’ve used the Marpac extensively in the past and like it, though I find my old iPhone gets considerably louder.

Though I don’t have experience with them, there are numerous white noise makers specifically for babies as well as countless other apps for both iOS and Android. Should the tinny sound of your phone’s speaker be bothersome, pipe the sound through a set of Bluetooth, Airplay or desktop speakers.

White noise is not just for parents with small children. Use it when you need to make a private phone call and your roommate is in the other room or to dull out the sounds of noisy neighbors. Living in small spaces near other people has many perks, but sound separation is typically not one of them. Cranking up the white noise (to less than 85 dB apparently) helps create some of that separation and a little bit of sanity.

  • Chris

    I like to idea of having a white noise app on my phone. As well as being useful while at home, i think it would be useful to travel with and use in hotels, hostels, etc.

  • D Daniel

    This app is a lifesaver. We use it on our phones when we stay at hotels and bluetooth to speakers at home. We live in a very crowded/noisy area on a small island. It is a lifesaver because it keeps me from killing my neighbors when they decide to start a party at 3 am…

  • David, I hope your newborn gets to sleeping through the night soon. There is nothing worse than being sleep deprived for any period of time. I guess this is a challenge of micro-living, but luckily one that won’t last forever. Hang in there my friend.

  • I personally tried sleeping with a white noise machine and then a fan, during parts of my many sleep studies. It did not work for me, but hopefully others have success with it. I know some people swear by them.

  • taki

    I own 4 white noise machines, including multiple MarPacs. After a year or so of use, the MarPac fans get weaker. The best one on the market is by LectroFan, which has no moving parts. I also use the Simply Noise and Simply Rain iphone apps. The Simply Noise website is great too. I live in a noisy neighborhood and these are essential.

  • Gary Pete Overton

    I had a white noise machine when they first came out years ago. Have had several since. Today I use a 3-speed fan and find that it works great. This fits into my lifestyle(and the lifestyle many of you claim to be striving for) I can also use the fan as a fan, a coat rack, drying machine, etc

  • STX24

    We bought a Lectrofan last year when we stopped running the window A/C. I would reccomend it to anyone looking for something small and effective at reproducing fan noise. I doubt I could sleep without it now 🙂

  • I personally like the idea of custom designed soundproofed sleeping box, like the one used in the Flattered small boutique hotel. They provide a controlled environment for sleep without the distractions of typical bedrooms with light, noise, and other distractions.

  • Tania

    My purifier provides enough white noise so I don’t need a separate device. Since the neighbor’s parties are also accompanied by a raging fire pit, it serves to block out their noise and smoke. Good to know especially for travel.

  • Tricia Haley

    Since I discover white noise machines I can get more sleep. I live in a very noisy environment, day and night people are shouting, having parties, and babies are crying out loud. Untill now white noise machine is very helpful for me.

  • If you are thinking of purchasing a white noise machine for a small child, make sure to consider what will be best for them. Some devices can easily be hung from the wall and turned on like a night light. Others are designed specifically for kids, which means that the white noise machine is inside of a stuffed animal that they will easily be able to have by their bed at night.